January 21, 2023
HOW ABOUT A FISCAL
RESPONSIBILITY CAUCUS, etc?
By: Marvin L. Covault, Lt Gen US Army, retired,
January 18, 2023
CAUCUSES: We have heard a lot lately about the House Freedom Caucus but did you know there were 460 caucuses in the 117th Congress? I assume there will be at least that many in the 118th Congress.
A congressional caucus is a group of members who meet to pursue common legislative objectives. Additionally, there are coalitions, study groups, task forces, and working groups. I’ve been through the alphabetical list of caucuses and cannot find one that has to do with fiscal responsibility. But if you are interested in the Bourbon Caucus, the Peanut Caucus, or perhaps the Rodeo Caucus, no problem.
That’s our Congress, elected to do the people’s work. Ostensibly they are there to find solutions for our most pressing problems. For example, the country is financially broke and getting more so every day. The national debt, all $31.35 trillion of it, as of 5 January 2023, is increasing at a rate of $2.7 billion per day. The debt is currently $93,997 for every person in the U.S. and we do not have a fiscal responsibility caucus.
In the past, our largest deficits were caused by increased spending around national emergencies like major wars or the Great Depression. That excuse does not work today.
A good way to express debt is as a percent of our Gross Domestic Product during a corresponding timeframe. For example, in 2007 the debt was 35% of GDP. Then we had the tax-and-spend eight years of the Obama/Biden misadministration and by 2016 it had more than doubled to 76% of GDP. Obama/Biden set the stage for an unprecedented tax-and-spend economy and the national debt doubled from about ten to twenty trillion dollars while taxes increased.
As debt grows so does the interest we pay. In the first two months of this fiscal year (October and November 2022), the U.S. made $103 billion in gross interest payments on the debt. At some point, interest on the debt will become the fastest-growing part of the federal budget. Experts tell us in ten years our interest will nearly triple from where it is today. This is unsustainable.
Given all that, here are four important points about FY2023:
One, the Congressional Budget Office predicts deficit spending to average about $2.7 billion per day; almost $1 trillion for the year.
Two, The government spent $534 billion to service the debt in FY2022 and that number is expected to be over $600 billion this year and could soon become a $1 trillion annual expense.
Three, Biden will continue to gloat that he is reducing the budget deficit. Compared to what? Yes, compared to the pandemic costs, but FY2023 spending will be well above pre-pandemic levels
Four, the day Biden was sworn in as president the national debt was $27.8 trillion; today it is $31.3. Do the math; no pandemic, no war, no depression. A tax-and-spend economy. The only national emergencies are uncontrolled immigration, rampant crime, record inflation, and energy costs/availability; all self-inflicted wounds that never should have happened.
WHAT DO WE-THE-PEOPLE THINK ABOUT ALL THIS DEFICIT SPENDING AND RISING DEBT?
Surveys tell us that 76% of voters want the president and Congress to spend more time addressing the debt and 83% say their level of concern has risen recently. But do we even have a congressional caucus that is articulating the problems, speaking out for their constituents, or proposing solutions? No, Congress is clearly on a tax-and-spend binge. We do not have a revenue problem; we continue to have a spending problem.
DEFINE THE PROBLEM:
This is not a difficult task. Just sit back and think about how Congress has done its business in the past year. Then give them a grade; I’m somewhere between a “D” and an “F” for the following reasons:
Total lack of discipline: For the budget process there is an existing schedule with exact deadlines for various committees and Congress as a whole. On that timeline, they are to complete their pieces of the annual budget process for the budget to be passed each year by 30 September and go into effect 1 October to begin the fiscal year. This has not happened since 1996. If leaders cannot learn from their mistakes and correct gross errors in the conduct of critical operations, how are We-The-People supposed to trust and respect them?
Pathetic leadership: The majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate all get an “F” for leadership for the annual failed budget process. They allow the Committees as well as Congress as a whole to ignore their deadlines thereby knowingly creating an annual budget crisis and the need for continuing resolutions. Continuing resolutions result in disregard for the thousands of government plans, programs, resolutions, and changes that were to begin on the first of October. Furthermore, continuing resolutions also disregard the elimination of costly programs and procedures that were to have ended on 30 September. Continuing resolutions are costly, inefficient, ineffective, and wasteful and should never happen.
The continuing resolution fiasco eventually leads to threats of a government shutdown. At that point, the so-called Congressional “leaders” created the annual Congressional crisis.
A potential government shutdown crisis leads to the passage of something akin to the recent Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 which Congress passed on 23 December 2022. That monster omnibus bill for $1.7 trillion was 4,155 pages long, was available for Congressional member review for only a couple of days, and contained an estimated 4,000 earmarks resulting in untold billions of wasted dollars. None of those expenditures had seen the light of day in a committee hearing, We-The-People have never heard of them and most would never pass if considered alone.
That omnibus bill also became the vehicle for the Biden Administration to sustain its tax-and-spend mentality.
In addition to the monster omnibus bill, it has become the norm rather than the exception to pass fewer bills each year that number in the thousands of pages, that are unread but voted on and full of needless pork. My favorite recent earmark was a provision that will fund $10 million for gender studies in Pakistan.
This is just a summary of a dysfunctional organization with pathetic leadership. The point is, this is a big part of the out-of-control spending problem that must get fixed if we are to get real about reducing deficit spending.
FIVE POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES OF DEFAULT ON THE U.S. DEBT (as reported by Market Realist):
One, interest rates would soar; killing businesses and personal investment.
Two, the value of the dollar would take a beating globally; strengthening China’s role in world trade.
Three, import prices would rise through the roof; everything would cost more.
Four, inflation would hit hard; impacting mostly the poor and middle class.
Five, credit rating downgrades could tank the stock market; personal investments and 401Ks would be negatively impacted.
All of that could come crashing down on us like a massive avalanche and we would soon be unable to recognize our once-great country.
GIVEN ALL OF THE ABOVE, CAN DEFICIT SPENDING AND RISING NATIONAL DEBT BE FIXED? YES.
Yes, it can be fixed but not by one action or one bill. It will take a series of legislative actions by the 118th Congress, led by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. And there is no requirement to invent a new approach. There is a model that worked in the 1994 midterm election and it will work now.
Newt Gingrich, the minority whip in the House of Representatives in the 1994 Contract with America, detailed the actions the Republicans promised to take if they became the majority party for the first time in 40 years. In the Contract, Gingrich promised a series of bills would be passed in the first 100 days of the new Congress. It is a little late but the concept is still valid today and can still accomplish the following three very important functions:
One, inform America that the Republicans have a plan beyond conducting investigations which is all we have heard the Republican leaders talk about since November.
Two, shut down Biden’s insistence that the Republicans don’t stand for anything.
Three, put the Senate and the Executive Branch on notice that there are some issues important to the American electorate coming their way for a decision.
Between 73 and 88 percent of Americans, in differing polls, say Biden has the nation on the wrong track. Irrespective of those findings, Biden said publicly after the 2022 midterms that he will do “nothing” different in the next two years.
Given the gravity of our current situation concerning deficit spending and national debt, and the fact that the Gingrich model has worked in the past, the recommendation is that the following prioritized list of ten pieces of legislation be drafted and set in motion immediately by Speaker McCarthy and passed in the House in the next 100 days.
Priority one is the first four proposed pieces of legislation that are all in some way related to reducing deficit spending and lowering the national debt.
First, HOW CONGRESS SHOULD OPERATE. This centerpiece legislation is intended to drastically change the way Congress operates thereby changing how every piece of stand-alone legislation works its way expeditiously from inception to a vote on the floor of the House and Senate. Since Congress is incapable of disciplining itself, the concept is to provide external oversight over the entire legislative process from the inception of a Bill to the vote on the floor. Every Bill will be standalone and will be dealt with on a prescribed timeline. Every budget will be completed by 30 September. There will be no earmarks.
The first draft of this proposed legislation has already been published on WeThePeopleSpeakling.com on 18 November 2022. And the bill is not 4000 pages or 400, it could be/should be less than 40 pages. Every interested American could read, understand and weigh in with their Representative/senator on the proposal. The cost to taxpayers is zero.
Second, REDUCTION OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH. This piece of legislation has to do with the mass of the Executive Branch and where the President’s budget comes from. The budget boils up out of the massive departments and agencies throughout the Executive Branch. Thousands of internal small teams, branches, divisions, etc. provide little or no value added but they each generate a budget requirement to continue to exist. This legislation will provide a detailed description of how to go about conducting a six-month review of every element of the Executive Branch, determine its worth and eliminate those with no value added, and thereby reduce the size of the President’s budget submission.
The first draft of this proposed legislation has already been published on WeThePeopleSpeaking.com on 18 November 2022 and it could be/should be less than 40 pages. Every interested American could read, understand and weigh in with their Representative/Senator on the proposal. The cost to taxpayers is zero.
Third, THE TAX CODE. This piece of legislation to be passed within 100 days has to do with the Tax Code and related regulations; all 70,000 plus pages of it. It cannot be fixed. Hit the delete button and start over. Under this legislation, all federal revenue will be generated based on individual gross income with one and only one deduction allowed; charitable contributions that meet certain criteria.
This will drastically simplify the Tax Code and everyone can and will understand it. Currently, tax law is a yo-yo used in a very disruptive way by administrations. Case in point, in 2017 President Trump cut taxes for every taxpayer, business, and corporation. As a result, gross income went up, GDP grew, and after a short lag-period federal revenue increased. Along comes the vengeful tax-and-spend Joe Biden and his Democrat-led Congress who have deleted the Trump tax cuts, added new taxes, and generally done everything possible to prohibit sustained growth in the overall economy.
The first draft of this proposed legislation has already been published on WeThePeopleSpeaking.com on 8 December 2022 and the legislation could be/should be less than 40 pages. The cost to taxpayers is zero.
Fourth, ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. This piece of legislation to reduce spending has to do with illegal immigration. In FY2020 border officials encountered 648,822 illegal immigrants nationwide and steps were ongoing to further secure the border. Migrant border crossings in FY2022 topped 2.76 million and are now not only a huge national expense but also a national security nightmare. In the first quarter of FY2023 illegal migrant encounters have averaged about 7,000 per day.
Illegal immigrant households receive an average of $5,692 in federal welfare benefits every year, more than the average U.S. citizen household at $4,431. The 2018 estimate was that every new illegal immigrant will cost more than $82,000 over their lifetime.
But the true cost of illegal immigration is hidden by a sophisticated money laundering operation. Democrats want to maximize illegal immigration but they don’t want their fingerprints on it. While partially funded by private donations, most of the NGO financing of illegal immigrants comes from American taxpayers.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) provide shelter, food, plane and bus tickets, debit cards, etc. Catholic Charities, for example, is the largest NGO involved in the trafficking of illegal aliens on both sides of the border. Most of their funding is not from the collection plate but from taxpayer dollars.
The Biden open borders policy is costing U.S. taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a simple way to shut down the mass migration of thousands per day. Here is the outline:
Hundreds of thousands of noncitizens are law-abiding, hard-working U.S. residents. Under the new legislation, employers will only be allowed to employ those who have an illegal immigrant work ID card. Employers violating the law will be subject to a $25,000 fine per worker.
The work ID cards will be issued by DMV stations throughout the U.S. over a six months period to every illegal migrant who has a job, wants to remain in the U.S., and has no felony record. This program could be implemented within weeks of passing the legislation.
Once foreigners who are contemplating immigrating illegally figure out that they will not have time to reach the U.S., get settled, get a job and then get an ID card, all within that six-month time frame, will realize it is hopeless to approach the border. At that point, every illegal immigrant inside the U.S. without a worker ID will be subject to deportation. The mass migration will be over. It’s that simple and self-policing.
ID card holders must renew their cards each year. If they committed a felony or failed to pay taxes the card will not be renewed and they will be deported.
This will not stop gang members, criminals, terrorists, or human and drug trafficking immigrants from attempting to cross the border. But with the Border Patrol Agents no longer processing thousands of migrants per day, they will be on duty along the entire border, performing border patrol and catching the criminals.
After five years with a good record, an illegal immigrant will be authorized to apply for U.S. citizenship.
The first draft of this proposed legislation has already been published on WeThePeopleSpeaking.com on 13 November 2022 and the legislation could be/should be less than 25 pages. The cost to taxpayers is zero.
Having completed those four issues most closely associated with deficit spending and national debt, the fifth piece of legislation has to do with elections.
Mr. Speaker, there is a 100-car freight train barreling down the tracks at 80 feet per second and you are stalled on the tracks in your new Mercedes and the seat belt won’t release. There is about to be a train wreck. All the evidence from recent national elections tells us at some point there will be a complete national election meltdown and it will split this nation in half. Metaphorically speaking you need to get out of that seat belt right now.
ELECTION REFORM LEGISLATION is needed because existing and potential fraud comes in many forms.
Inaccurate voter registration rolls exist in every state. For example, in January 2019, California was ordered by a federal judge to begin removing approximately 1.5 million invalid voter registrants from their rolls. LA county alone has a registration rate of 112% of its adult citizen population. Nearly all of the invalid voters on the rolls would in all probability receive a mail-in ballot.
ü Mail-in ballots provide too many opportunities for fraud.
ü Fraudulent ballot harvesting has been well documented.
ü Fraud by election officials does exist.
ü Lack of chain of custody of ballots is a common extensive problem.
ü Chaotic behind-the-scenes ballot counting procedures are all too prevalent.
There is a Democrat movement towards non-citizen voting. In December 2021 the New York City council passed an ordinance allowing over 800,000 noncitizens to vote in city elections declaring, “New York city must be seen as a shining example for other progressive cities to follow.”
The list of potential problems is too long. A July 2021 poll of 800 registered voters (31% Democrats, 29% Republicans, and 31% Independents) revealed the following:
ü 87% were against ballot harvesting.
ü 77% rejected the Democrat claim that voter ID is racist.
ü 78% agreed with voter signature verification and chain of custody controls.
ü 89% agreed that voter rolls need to be cleaned up.
ü 88% believe states should not send mail-in ballots to the general public and non-citizens.
What about solutions? 80% of the 800 voters in that poll agree that Voter ID is a key security measure.
Honest elections are a cornerstone of our nation. When we lose confidence in its validity, we have lost America. Voter ID is a quick, painless fix. It will solve all of the above-listed election problems. Voter ID is Election Reform. The Democrats will call it “racist” as they have done in the past which is fine because the American people know better, and they will resent the Democrats for rejecting Voter ID.
Election reform legislation must be a high-priority action for Republicans if they are to do the peoples bidding in “The Peoples House.” The percentages in the above poll tell the whole story.
The first draft of this proposed legislation has already been published on WeThePeopleSpeaking.com on 16 November 2022 and the legislation could be/should be, not 800 pages like the Democrat version of reform, but less than 25 pages. The cost to taxpayers is zero.
EDUCATION. Also included in the 100-day list of priority legislation should be specific measures to fix the pathetic state of education throughout America. The first draft of this proposed legislation has already been published in WeThePeopleSpeaking.com on 13 November 2022 and the legislation could be/should be less than 50 pages. The cost to taxpayers is zero.
TERMS OF OFFICE AND TERM LIMITS are no longer in the nation’s best interest. They need to be reformed and should be included in the 100-day priority legislation list. The first draft of this proposed legislation has already been published on WeThePeopleSpeaking.com on 28 November 2022 and the legislation could be/should be less than 50 pages. The cost to taxpayers is zero.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE is completely out of control with billions of dollars being spent to influence voters and to buy the support of elected officials. It is unnecessary, unsavory, and uncontrolled. Just let the people decide based on what the candidates have to say from the “stump.” The first draft of this proposed legislation has already been published on WeThePeopleSpeaking.com on 30 November 2022 and the legislation could be/should be less than 25 pages. The cost to taxpayers is zero.
ELECTION YEAR PRIMARY PROCESS IS A CHAOTIC MESS. Delegates selected by primary, or by caucus; open primaries, closed primaries; proportional convention delegates, winner-take-all delegates; committed delegates, uncommitted delegates; delegates that are pledged, those that are unpledged; Republican rules, Democrat rules; at-large delegates, congressional district delegates; superdelegates in the Democrat party, Republican pledged delegates either bound or unbound; it needs to be completely rethought. This should be on the 100-day legislation list so that it can be fixed before the 2024 election cycle begins. The first draft of this proposed legislation has already been published on WeThePeopleSpeaking.com on 2 December 2022 and the legislation could be/should be less than 25 pages. The cost to taxpayers is zero.
UNIVERSAL SERVICE FOR AMERICANS (USA).Compulsory service for all 18-year-old Americans has the potential to change and improve the culture of this country. We need legislation to begin the process of formulating the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the program. An entire concept of operations for such a program that could serve as the first draft of the legislation has already been published on WeThePeopleSpeaking.com on 9 December 2022.
There you have it, ten top-priority pieces of legislation that Speaker McCarthy should announce immediately. One thing all successful leaders must do is set priorities. Doing so will build support, create debate, focus supporters, and create a path forward.
Speaker McCarthy, you need to stop looking and acting like a Pelosi clone, talking about investigations, and concentrate on putting this nation on a different track.
Yes, we need to de-weaponize the Justice Department, FBI, and IRS for starters, but let the committee heads drive that train. Yes, Hunter Biden should probably be prosecuted but that is not your responsibility.
Yes, Presidents Trump and Biden have been beyond stupid in their handling of classified documents but leave that to the journalists, talking heads on TV, and prosecutors.
You need to get above the daily headlines, create the headlines, drive the media, concentrate on broader issues, and lead, lead, lead all Republicans toward the 2024 elections.
Specifically, Mr. Speaker, concentrate on passing the 100-day legislation package. About now you, the reader, are saying, doesn’t Covault understand that the Senate is unlikely to pass these bills and even if they do Biden will probably veto them? I agree with you but the Republicans have to show We-The-People what Republicans are for and what they will do for all Americans. The Democrats will call the legislation racist, or support for the rich, or harmful to the poor – their usual sound-bite diatribe. That’s OK because the American people will see through that and favor the value added from the proposed legislation. Remember, 80% of Americans believe the country is being led down the wrong track; they are hungry for positive change.
Get a new leader for the Republican National Committee. This is a time-sensitive task as 168 voters (three from each state and territory) will vote on 27 January to select from three self-appointed candidates:
Ronna McDaniel, who has been a complete failure since 2016, wants to be reelected.
Harmeet Dhillon, a California Republican official with no visible experience in leading a large organization or building a national operations plan is on the ballot.
The third candidate, My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, is fanatical about supporting President Trump, and will likely turn the RNC into a Trump-support operation.
Mr. Speaker, surely, we can do better. You need to quickly find someone with planning, organizing, and leadership experience. Get them to sign up and push hard to get them elected. Keep in mind that the RNC has been a complete zero for the last few years and they need to play a leading support role during the lead-up to the 2024 election.
The RNC needs a complete overhaul and refocus. The leader does not need to be a politician or good fundraiser or a recognized face. We desperately need a no-BS, intelligent, experienced leader of organizations, with planning expertise and experience who can take command and lead. For those of you who routinely watch Fox News, you will recognize General Jack Keane, a regular Fox contributor. By just listening to him you understand the depth and breadth of his intellect and leadership ability. Find someone like Jack to lead the RNC.
Mr. Speaker, your priority job is to change the direction of this nation by getting every Republican candidate in the country in 2024 armed with everything they need to enhance their campaigns. There is a lot more to election preparation than raising money. Here is a way to facilitate all that:
As soon as possible invite the 27 Republican Governors to a two-day offsite. There should be only the governors plus four others in the room; the Speaker of the House, the Chairperson of the RNC, a scribe at the whiteboard writing down thoughts from the attendees, and a second scribe capturing it all on a computer.
The goal of the first meeting is to create a generalized two-year phased operations plan leading to the 2024 election. Phase one is Planning. As each phase is about to begin, reassemble and create greater specificity of who, what, when, where, why, and how for everything that needs to be accomplished in that phase. Generally, the phases will be in four-month increments.
The first order of business at every succeeding meeting will be an after-action review of the previous four months’ work. Answer these three questions:
ü What did we collectively do well?
ü What could we have done better? and,
ü What specifically is to be accomplished in the upcoming phase?
Generally, the RNC will be tasked to research every element of the op plan and prepare fact sheets and talking points for every campaign issue that, at some point, will be made available to every Republican candidate nationwide.
Beginning with the Phase Two meeting, the RNC Chairperson will provide a detailed in-progress review of what specifically the RNC has accomplished during the previous four months and what is planned for the next four months. For the next two years, the RNC will be the direct support staff for every Republican candidate leading to the 2024 election.
In June 2020, just five months before the general election, the Republican National Committee met and decreed that the 2016 platform would also serve as the 2020 platform. If you were brain-dead you couldn’t come up with anything as stupid as that. And to top it off, as of last summer, 2022, the RNC was still showing the 2016 platform on their website. We cannot wait until June of 2024 for the Republican National Committee to tell us what the platform should look like. If we are that disorganized and unprepared going forward to 2024, we deserve to lose
BOTTOM LINE: The office of the Speaker of the House cannot be business-as-usual going forward. Speaker McCarthy needs to act quickly; change the Republican Party focus; create and execute a 100-day legislative agenda; get the RNC reoriented, engaged and productive; make positive, forward-looking headlines that the mainstream media cannot ignore; send shock waves through the Democrat Party as they blindly follow Biden’s pledge to change “nothing”leading up to the 2024 election.
Today the Republican Party is leaderless and we cannot wait for some presidential candidate to emerge as the temporary leader; that’s too little, too late. Mr. Speaker, grab on to the old saying, “When in charge, take charge.” You are all we have right now and if you can’t or won’t act, we lose.
If you do not take an interest
in the affairs of your government,
then you are doomed to live under
the rule of fools.